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First impressions of OnePlus One’s OxygenOS ROM

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It’s rarely been easier to review a new piece of software than that of the OxygenOS for the OnePlus One. After bringing on many of the top developers from popular custom ROM Paranoid Android (AOSPA), the team set about creating a long-term alternative to CyanogenMOD, after a fallout left the company without any other options.

In the short-term, the OnePlus One will continue to receive updates from both Cyanogen Inc. and its own OxygenOS, but it’s clear that the relationship is irrevocably severed, and that the company’s next phone will take advantage of its homegrown ROM solution.

At this point, OxygenOS is pretty simple: it doesn’t have many of the frills associated with OEM skins, nor the value-added features of even CM11S. Instead, its barebones approach to stock Android 5.0.2 Lollipop ensures it performs quickly and reliably; I haven’t had anything that resembles the normal instability of a custom ROM. Indeed, the release of OxygenOS was delayed by a week to ensure that everything was working properly, and that it can be updated over the air when the time comes.

Installation

Installing OxygenOS is fairly simple, but you will need to know your way around a command prompt and a custom recovery. This thread on OnePlus’s forums make it fairly easy to navigate, but the entire process isn’t for the faint of heart.

One thing to note is that I didn’t read the instructions thoroughly enough and attempted to flash the oxygenos_1.0.0.zip straight to the device. Instead, you’ll need to extract that file to get to the flashable .zip within, oxygen_1.0.0_flashable.zip.

I used the latest version of TWRP recovery, 2.8.5.1, to flash the ROM, and I updated my recovery using the TWRP Manager app (root required).

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Performance and First Impressions

Once flashed, the ROM requires a bit of setup, since it wipes the data from your phone (though SD card data is left alone, thankfully). I used Lollipop’s Tap-and-Go feature to restore my accounts and apps, but that process failed and didn’t give me a chance to try it again. I opted to start from scratch and reinstall only my most-used apps manually.

Once set up, the software ran pretty much exactly like a Nexus device, with a few tweaks for good measure. CyanogenMOD this isn’t, though, so don’t expect lavish customizations, at least not at this point in the ROM’s development cycle.

Instead, you’re forced to work with Google’s first-party apps, all of which are pre-installed on here, along with a customized File Browser app developed by OnePlus. Yay?

Elsewhere, the app supports a smaller number of the custom lockscreen gestures we’re used to from KitKat, such as double-tapping to wake, drawing a “V” to activate the flashlight, and drawing an “O” to initiate the camera.

Those who prefer to use the phone’s capacitive buttons also have access to a few shortcuts via double-tapping or long-pressing the home or menu button, the latter of which defaults to a multitasking button in Lollipop. I set a double-tap of the home button to quickly enter the camera app, Galaxy S6-style. None of these are new though; they are merely ports from later versions of CM11S.

Anyone familiar with stock Android 5.0 Lollipop will know the quick settings menu is not customizable, but here it is. OxygenOS lets you move around and hide certain icons in the quick settings area of the notification shade, but doesn’t offer any new ones.

What’s Missing

If you want a huge number of features, I’d recommend waiting for CM12S, which was supposed to be released last week but may be delayed for another little while.

Using the default Google Camera app was a little difficult to return to after the excellent, multi-faceted CyanogenMOD camera app in KitKat, but a third-party app like Camera-FV5 should make up for it somewhat. Perhaps more concerning is that OxygenOS doesn’t use Google’s new Camera2 API, which makes apps like Manual Camera completely useless with the phone’s excellent camera sensor.

OnePlus also listed a short number of known issues for this 1.0 ROM, including:

  • When printing images, printer service may stop
  • Cannot hang up a call using headphone controls (intermittent)
  • OTG can only recognize FAT32 file system
  • During system update, display of wifi/data notification may be incorrect
  • During system update, display of version number may be incorrect
  • Files sometimes crash when uploading files to the cloud
  • Files may crash when renaming image files
  • Files does not support multi-select deletes

A Good Start

Though lacking the features of CyanogenMOD, OxygenOS untethers OnePlus from another company’s ROM, a move that may have looked great a year ago but has come back to haunt the young smartphone OEM.

With the OnePlus Two on the horizon, it’s important to see OxygenOS as a canvas on which the company can freely work to direct its own destiny.

Your Turn

Have you updated to OxygenOS on your OnePlus One? If so, let us know your impressions of it below.

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